Indigenous Literacy Day in Australia Date in the current year: September 4, 2024

Indigenous Literacy Day in Australia Indigenous Literacy Day is an annual awareness campaign organized by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILS), an Australian not-for-profit charity whose main purpose is to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remote communities with educational tools and resources. It is observed on the first Wednesday of September.

Indigenous Australians make up approximately 3.3% of the country’s population. Contrary to a common misconception, the Australian Indigenous community isn’t homogeneous; it is ethnically and linguistically diverse. Indigenous Australians speak approximately 250 Australian Aboriginal languages and two Torrent Strait Island languages, as well as several English-based creole languages and dialects of English.

Many people associate literacy with reading and writing, but for a lot of Indigenous Australians, their concept of literacy is built around their community, land and culture. Indigenous Literacy Day is about bringing the Western and Indigenous concepts of literacy together and helping Indigenous Australians to preserve their native language and culture in the way they are comfortable with, as well as providing children from remote communities access to education.

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation was officially founded in 2011, but it history began in 2004, when Suzy Wilson of Riverbend Books launched the Riverbend Readers’ Challenge to raise funds for improving literacy in remote communities. In 2007, the Riverbend Readers’ Challenge teamed up with the Fred Hollows Foundation to form the Indigenous Literacy Project. Four years later, the project became the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

The ILF works with hundreds of remote communities, gifting them books, supplying them with other educational resources, providing access to literacy programs, and publishing books to preserve and promote Aboriginal and Torrent Straits Islander languages. The foundation also advocates for the right of Indigenous Australians to get educated in their native languages, which is what Indigenous literacy is about.

The three main programs of the ILF are Book Supply, Book Buzz and Community Publishing Project. The Book Supply program focuses on providing culturally relevant books to remote Indigenous communities; 40% of the books feature Indigenous authors and illustrators. The Book Buzz focuses on teaching Indigenous children under five to navigate books. Finally, through Community Publishing Projects, the ILF helps to publish books in First Languages created by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Indigenous Literacy Day has been held on the first Wednesday of September since 2004. On the occasion of Indigenous Literacy Day, the ILF organizes a national event to promote indigenous literacy, as well as the revitalization and preservation of Indigenous languages. Indigenous Literacy Day is also observed by schools, publishers, booksellers, businesses, organizations and individuals across Australia. They support the campaign by holding events of their own, donating to the ILF, purchasing ILF merchandise, and promoting the campaign and the ILF on social media.

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